Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for SIO Research Vessels

Updated: Monday, 28 September 2020

Operational Status: Research Vessels

The US Academic Research Fleet resumed seagoing operations on 01 July 2020 following a stand-down that began 17 March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we ramp back up to shipboard research, we are taking steps to help promote the health and safety of all embarked personnel and shoreside support staff.  To do so, we have developed an approach guided by UC San Diego's infectious disease experts and epidemiologists as well as the World Health Organization, the CDC, state and local public health experts, and in accordance with guidelines established by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

Project-specific risk assessment process

Each planned research mission will undergo a risk assessment involving the SIO Marine Superintendent, the vessel Master, and the Chief Scientist.  The process and considerations are described here:

Shipboard preparedness

We have developed protocols for in-port and underway operations for research vessels that

  • Define practices in an effort to minimize the possibility of COVID-19 being spread aboard a ship
  • Describe how to immediately respond to a suspected case of COVID-19 on board.

Our approach includes quarantine or testing requirements for embarking personnel, shipboard disease transmission prevention, infection control, and patient treatment.  These instructions are described here:

Risk awareness

Some underlying health conditions may increase the risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.  To ensure that people who are considering embarking aboard a research vessel understand this risk, we require that all read, sign and return an acknowledgement to the SIO Marine Superintendent prior to sailing.

FLU shots are required

To support the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff, the University of California, in consultation with UC Health leadership, has issued a systemwide executive order (PDF) requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020.  This requirement extends to all scientists, technicians and mariners embarking aboard Scripps-operated research vessels. Influenza vaccines are especially important for embarked personnel because influenza symptoms mimic those of COVID-19, and flu illnesses at sea could jeopardize our ability to fulfill the ship's scientific mission by requiring a premature return to port. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Operational status: Nimitz Marine Facility

The Nimitz Marine Facility is at reduced staffing levels in compliance with UC San Diego Orange Phase. 

Vessel / facility access

Effective 01 July 2020

Only essential activities are allowed. 

  • No tours or guests on board or on site.
  • Only mariners, technicians, shore support personnel permitted.
  • Contractors doing essential business at the facility may be granted permission on case-by-case basis by Marine Superintendent.
  • Vessel access is regulated according to our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
  • Other exceptions require permission of Marine Superintendent, and will be based on scientific or operational necessity.

Cruise planning meetings

  • Will be held by teleconference only (not in-person).
  • Requests to visit MarFac and the ships will be considered by the Marine Superintendent based on scientific or operational necessity.

Travel (for SOMTS employees)

  • Travel is restricted to essential activities. Seek alternatives such as virtual meetings or conference calls.
  • Travel by mariners and marine technicians to ships and work assignments is essential to operations, and may be authorized by SOMTS supervisors.
  • Use Connexxus to arrange travel. If you do not use Connexxus, register your trip with UC Away.
  • Follow SOMTS and UC San Diego campus policy on travel.

Please do your part -- follow campus guidance

UC San Diego Guidance